Customer Reviews for

Austenland

Average Rating 4
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(88)

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Most Helpful Favorable Review

20 out of 24 people found this review helpful.

A Refreshing Regency Romance

Austenland is an intriguing concept that is carried of rather well. From a high level, it involves a thirty-something single woman named Jane off for 3 weeks of "Live Action Role Play" (LARP) in a Regency House populated with servants, gentlemen and other women searchi...
Austenland is an intriguing concept that is carried of rather well. From a high level, it involves a thirty-something single woman named Jane off for 3 weeks of "Live Action Role Play" (LARP) in a Regency House populated with servants, gentlemen and other women searching for Victorian style romance. I expected plenty of sappy moments and coming away with a sugar headache. Instead, I found a thoughtful and fun (albeit cheesy at times) romance that tries to get to the heart of romance while exploring unrealistic expectations and the joys and pains of obsessions.

Starting out the novel, I was worried that Jane would quickly become a stereotypical archetype...the 'unlucky in love' woman who obsesses over Pride & Prejudice (and other similar books), spurns men as vile and unromantic, and sets herself expectations that can never be achieved. By the end of the book, many of those traits were in fact proven out. However, Jane did progress through the novel and explored her own psychology to determine which of those characteristics were realistic and which should be abandoned.

Her path to discovery was humorous at times, frustrating at others, but in the end felt believable. I really found myself getting to understand and sympathize with Jane while at the same time wanting to shout at her that she was an idiot.

I absolutely loved the prefaces to many of the chapters in the book...many of the chapters began with a short description of each of Jane's "boyfriends" (of which I think she had 15). Most were a few paragraphs...one was just a sentence. Each was very insightful into her character and each was rather humorous...the kind of humor that is funny because you can see the reality behind the pathetic occurrence. As an example, one of these "boyfriend" descriptions tells about how she first saw the boy in class and they shared a glance and then, because he was too shy, she asked him out...to which he responded, "sure...and what was your name"....which promptly ended their "relationship".

As for the other characters, I felt that they were well portrayed, but I had some trouble (as did Jane) trying to sort out the behavior of the actors versus those of the person behind the character. I really felt Hale did a good job of keeping the true person at a distance while exposing glimpses of reality, but I would have liked to have seen more "behind-the-scenes" moments with them. We get one VERY brief scene where one of the characters is smoking behind a bush and talks about "getting back to work." I would like to have seen moments like that elaborated on a bit more.

The writing and the plot flowed along very nicely and it was a very fun read. Even though I am a heterosexual male, I did enjoy the book and can recommend it. However, I can't recommend it to everyone. For example, most of my friends (both male and female) would likely laugh at the suggestion and never make it beyond the first chapter. Others would certainly eat it up. I think that in order to enjoy this, the reader must first have an appreciation, if not a love, of Victorian literature and particularly Victorian romances. Having at least a perception of the obsession around Pride and Prejudice may also help.

So, two scores.
To those who don't like Victorian romances - 1 star
To those who enjoy Victorian lit, romances, or "girlie" books - 3.5 stars

posted by theokester on June 15, 2009

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Most Helpful Critical Review

14 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

Read her other work

Shannon Hale's young adult fantasy is wonderful. Jane Austen is wonderful. So I looked forward to this novel, which was one of the biggest disappointments I've ever read. It's painfully anti-romantic, almost embarrassing. The heroine seems to need to apologize for li...
Shannon Hale's young adult fantasy is wonderful. Jane Austen is wonderful. So I looked forward to this novel, which was one of the biggest disappointments I've ever read. It's painfully anti-romantic, almost embarrassing. The heroine seems to need to apologize for liking Austen, goes to a kind of fake Regency vacation home, where she's forced into uncomfortable clothing, and must endure conversation with players whose titles are incorrect for the period, and who don't seem to know the manners of the time. She is awkward, making the reader feel awkward: there is no grace, and certainly no romance. The 'Darcy' character is stiff and morose without charm. The heroine goes on and on at excruciating length about her ambivalence. I made it three quarters of the way through before I had to give up, as nothing had happened except more dull dialog interspersed with inner maundering.

posted by 792982 on January 21, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2013

    Okay, but not perfect

    I thought this was an interesting read, but really, the lead character just seemed a little immature. To be in her 30s and counting the guys you basically looked at twice as your boyfriend? Totally unrealistic and, in a word, sad.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 19, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Angieville: AUSTENLAND

    This bittersweet, funny slim little novel is first and foremost a love letter to Jane Austen, despite its well-deserved (and hilarious) dedication to Colin Firth. For those of us who, like the novel's heroine Jane Hayes, have happily reread all of Austen's novels over the years (except, as Hale points out, NORTHANGER ABBEY, which only got that one read), this story is a pleasant romp in Austenland. I was pleased with the way Jane questioned what in the world she was doing at what amounts to a Regency period fun park, with the way she alternately resists giving in to the fantasy and longs to dive in with reckless abandon. And I enjoyed the romantic comedy finish line ending.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2013

    Good Read

    I am a big Jane Austen fan, so when I saw this book I was excited to see what the storyline would be. While I found it started a bit slow, once I got into the book I found that I really got to like the main character and the journey she took. It is defiantly worth reading.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 27, 2014

    Great summer read!

    This was a book that you will read in one weekend. It is fun and takes you right into Austenland. It is one of those books that you know you will miss the characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 27, 2014

    A good read

    Definitely worth reading, interesting look at English life during Jane Austen's time from a modern perspective.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2013

    hm

    Fluffy read.

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  • Posted March 25, 2013

    I did like this book. I finished it in 2 days and really got int

    I did like this book. I finished it in 2 days and really got into it towards the end. However, there were typos on the Nook edition, and that drives me absolutely crazy. For instance, they spelled Edmund from Mansfield Park Edmond. Come on, now. Plus there were other typos that just detract from the reading. I wish the editing for Nook editions was better. It makes me think I need to go back to regular paperback books because it just takes away so much. Anyway, enough of my ranting. I like to concept of this book and was laughing out loud at certain points. I am a huge Jane Austen fan, so I love reading books like this that put a modern twist on her characters. The story line is more thought-provoking than one might think, too. Kind of like a mystery and romance in one! I would recommend this book and will probably read Midnight in Austenland. Just please, i beg these people, fix the typos for Nook edition!!!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Liked it

    I liked the book. Yes its a bit silly but entertaining none the less. Its a quick lazy day read for pride n prejudice fans and it was cheap.

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  • Posted December 4, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A cute modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice with twists I

    A cute modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice with twists
    I guess I expected a little too much when I read this. I was expecting to be wisped away like I was when I first read Pride and Prejudice or Emma. That’s not saying this novel wasn’t good, because it was. The novel is a modern day remake of Pride and Prejudice where Jane is going to a resort where she would be playing the role of an Austen character, and actually ends up becoming a modern day Elizabeth from Pride and Prejudice. Now, the Mr. Darcy was pretty swoon worthy…that I will admit. I liked everything about him and his surly attitude. But, they are all actors so I wondered if he was really like that. Mr. Darcy isn’t Mr. Darcy without the surly attitude and I’m not sure I would love him if he weren’t surly. The novel was a cute read that had me smiling, but I found there were a lot of things that seemed a bit slow, and not necessarily important. I did expect some of the other characters to fit Austen’s characters more, and some did, but some also didn’t and I guess I will a little disappoint. But, I mean I couldn’t expect just a modern retelling of the original story, because that would not be what Hale had in mind. I have to admit I still like the read. I smiled thinking about all things Darcy and all things Miss Elizabeth Bennet. I was brought back into the world of Austen and it would be a dream come true if I was able to spend a day in the story of Pride and Prejudice. I think I would potentially feel like Jane Hayes if I spent more time there that a day or two. I would probably get bored and want a shower. But still, one can dream, right?
    Good:
    Jane—a pretty good modern day Elizabeth Bennet with some twists of her own.
    Mr. Darcy—the original bad boy always makes me swoon, and to dream that he could be real and in our modern world makes my knees go weak.
    Bad: 
    The novel at times was a little slow.
    Overall (Writing style, story line, and general):
    Overall the novel was well written. I never had to re-read, and I never misunderstood anything. The idea of going to a place called Austenland was original and inviting. Some of the story line was a little slow, but overall the characters were unique and interesting to read about. And of course anything to do with Jane Austen and her characters makes me smile.

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  • Posted November 11, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    First off, let me state I am a huge Jane Austen fan but I'm far

    First off, let me state I am a huge Jane Austen fan but I'm far from expecting modern attempts at her works to reach the same level. This book had the premise to be better than it was. The heroine was never truly likeable. She was selfish, self absorbed and had no ability to self assess.

    There was not enough interaction between the hero and the heroine to buy their feelings. Out of a 180 pages there was limited to zero interaction for the first 80 pages, leaving 100 pages to develop romance. The story also borrows ideas, scenarios and even direct lines from everything from Austen works to Bridget Jone's Diary, to the DVD of 1995 Pride and Prejudice to the 2005 Pride and Prejudice, which I found off putting.

    It was a fast and easy read. I did enjoy the run down of her previous 'boyfriends' at the beginning of each chapter and learning a few Regency etiquette rules that I had not known but for the most part the book was a missed opportunity for me.

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  • Posted October 25, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    An interesting take on the Austen Obsession

    Some of my friends absolutely adore the author Shannon Hale. So it was that, added with the fact that the plot centered around an Austen-addict, that made me pick this book up.

    The story focuses on Jane, an Austen lover how has let the obsession take over her life. She spends more time with her BBC version of Pride & Prejudice then she does with non-fictional men. When her wealthy great-aunt Carolyn leaves her a trip to the super secretive Pembrook Park, she sets off for England. Over the course of the stay she realizes that being in Austenland isn't all that she dreamed it would be.

    Generally, I liked the book. I'm not really sure what to say about it, hence the short review. It was fairly short, pretty quirky, and ended on a happy note. There was, however, one thing that caught my attention. On page 158 (of the paperback edition), the book says: "Jane caught sight of a very striking Colonel Andrews, who, now that she watched him dance, might just be gay." While I love Shannon Hale, she was great at her author signing...this kind of threw me. Yes, he was gay, but the stereotype in this line pulled me out of the story completely. I felt like that was a totally unnecessary way to mention his sexuality.

    Aside from that line, I thought that book was cute. I was really in need of a light, fluffy book, and this one delivered. Although, it has left me thinking about my Austen mini-obsession. Would I really go so far as to spend a few weeks at a faux-Austen getaway?

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  • Posted October 18, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Great rainy afternoon read

    The book is witty and has some aspects of originality, but I still felt it lacked a bit of dimension in its characters. It was very original from the author to include in the beginning of each chapter a short story of a past boyfriend. It's a short book that can easily be read in one sitting, great for a rainy afternoon or during a long flight.

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  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    What could have been....

    While the premise was inventive and the story charming, it lacked in real substance. Nice for a light, summer read but not a keeper.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Pretty Good Read

    Well, if you are getting this book because you absolutely love Jane Austena and all her books, let me give you a heads up. Yes, this is a good book, entertaining (I read it in pretty much one sitting), and has some great references and inside jokes for true Austen addicts. However, do not expect another P&P. If you regularly read classics like Austen, this will seem like fluff to you. It's good fluff, but if you're looking for depth keep looking. If you're looking for a rainy day book this is it. Overall, it was good but again, just fluff.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2007

    Not as great as her other books

    The story idea was fantastic however, the book was a little dissapointing. I kept waiting for the story to get good, but it was slow and the ending didn't have enough of a payoff for me. I thought the characters were underdeveloped and much more could've been done with the idea. Maybe if she writes a sequel to it, it will make the book more fulfilling. Nevertheless, I did have fun reading it and I would probably read it again. It just isn't 'great'.

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    Posted July 19, 2014

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    Posted September 23, 2014

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    Posted December 9, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2012

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